Susana Pimiento's blog
The list is growing of sitting heads of state in Latin America who question the failed war on drugs and seek a debate on their legalization. Besides the voices of Presidents Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia and Felipe Calderón of Mexico, several Central American countries are joining the chorus, lead by Guatemala under the recently inaugurated government of Otto Perez Molina.
In April 2009, just a dozen weeks after his inauguration, President Obama gathered in Trinidad with the hemisphere’s other heads of the state and vowed to open a new chapter in U.S. relations with Latin America and the Caribbean. He promised these relations would be founded on “mutual respect and equality,” promises that, unfortunately, were not kept. Since 2009, the region has gone through a wave of increased U.S. military intervention expressed in several ways: the revamping the U.S. Navy’s Fourth Fleet; an agreement with Colombia to use at least seven of its military bases (later revoked by Colombia’s constitutional court); support for the Honduras military coup; and military intervention following the Haiti earthquake, just to name a few.
The International Verification Mission and Las Pavas
From November 27 until December 2, forty people from 15 countries went to Colombia to look into how safe is to defend human rights in Colombia. The International Verification Mission on the Defence of Human Rights in Colombia was set to evaluate recommendations issued by United Nations Special Rapporteur Margaret Sekaggya, who visited Colombia in September 2009, after illegal surveillance and harassment of human rights defenders, justices, political opposition by Colombian intelligence agency DAS was unveiled in April 2009. A campaign for the Right to Defend Human Rights was launched soon after, aimed at achieving progress in five fronts: increasing security of human rights defenders, ending impunity for attacks committed against them and stopping the misuse of intelligence, baseless prosecution and stigmatization of human rights defenders, including by public officials.
By Susana Pimiento
Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos surprised many on November 12 when he told the British newspaper The Observer that he favors rethinking the war on drugs and that he would consider legalizing marihuana and cocaine. He warned that he was not ready to take the lead in promoting the change: “What I won’t do is to become the vanguard of that movement because then I will be crucified. But I would gladly participate in those discussions because we are the country that’s still suffering most and have suffered most historically with the high consumption of the UK, the US, and Europe in general.”
By Susana Pimiento
Over twelve inches of rain poured on Miami over the Columbus Day weekend - not unusual for this time of year. Yet the rain didn’t stop the farm workers rallying for better wages, the antiwar activists raising awareness of militarization and waste taking place in their doorsteps nor workers, immigrants, students who articulated their discontent and joined with the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The U.S. Southern Command, located outside of Miami, is the brains behind the U.S. military domination of Latin America and the Caribbean. We need to close it, to reclaim the sacred land for the peoples of the Americas.
Join me this weekend in Miami for a forum and rally to close U.S. Southern Command and de-activate the Fourth Fleet and the School of the Americas.
No reservation is necessary — simply join me this weekend in Miami at either or both of these events:
- Forum on U.S. militarization and resistance in the Americas
Saturday, Oct. 8, 2:00 to 7:00 PM
St. Thomas University, Library Building, Convocation Hall
16401 NW 37th Avenue, Opa-Locka (view map and get directions)
- Rally and march to the gates of U.S. Southern Command
Sunday, Oct. 9, 12 noon
APWU Union Office Parking lot
2500 N.W. 97 Ave.
(On the northwest corner of 25th Street and 97th Ave. There is a exit off the 826 highway for N.W. 25th Street)
Doral. Florida 33172
It was no coincidence that Columbus Day weekend was chosen for an action in front of the U.S. Southern Command headquarters, outside Miami in Doral, Florida. Co-sponsored by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the weekend-long mobilization will protest US military intervention in Latin America and the Caribbean, which activists see as a continuation of the colonialist era that started with the arrival of Columbus to the Americas, in 1492. As in colonial times, US militarization in Latin America and access to natural resources and markets in the region are tightly linked.
April 9th marked the seventeenth anniversary of the killing of Manuel Cepeda Vargas, a Colombian Senator with the left-wing political party Union Patriotica (UP). For the first time, this year there was formal recognition of the wrong that occurred nearly two decades ago. This is a result of a 2010 ruling by the Inter American Human Rights Court that found the Colombian state responsible for the killing of Cepeda Vargas, and which ordered it to “organize a public act of acknowledgment of international responsibility for the facts”.